There are few athletes in the world who can rival the popularity of football players. Many of them have become global superstars, with millions of fans around the globe.
Among the most popular football players in the world are Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar Jr., and Karim Benzema.
Lionel Andrés "Leo" Messi (Spanish pronunciation: ['ljonel an'dres 'mesi]; born 24 June 1987) is an Argentine professional footballer who plays as a forward for the Spanish club Barcelona and the Argentina national team.
Often considered the best player in the world and rated by many in the sport as the greatest of all time, Messi has won a record-tying seven Ballon d'Or awards, four of which he won consecutively, and a record six European Golden Shoes.
He has spent his entire professional career with Barcelona, where he has won 35 trophies, including ten La Liga titles, four UEFA Champions League titles, and seven Copas del Rey.
A prolific goalscorer, Messi holds the records for most goals scored in La Liga (474), a La Liga season (50), a calendar year (91), and a Champions League match (5). He has scored over 700 senior career goals for club and country.
Born and raised in central Argentina, Messi was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency as a child. At age 13, he relocated to Spain to join Barcelona, which agreed to pay for his medical treatment.
After a fast progression through Barcelona's youth academy, Messi made his competitive debut aged 17 in October 2004.
Despite being injury-prone during his early career, he established himself as an integral player for the club within the next three years, finishing 2007 as a finalist for both the Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year award, a feat he repeated the following year.
His first uninterrupted campaign came in the 2008–09 season, during which he helped Barcelona achieve the first treble in Spanish football.
At 22 years old, Messi won the 2009 Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year award by record voting margins.
Three successful seasons followed, with Messi winning three consecutive FIFA Ballons d'Or, becoming the first player to win three Ballons d'Or since Michel Platini.
During his sixth season at Barcelona, Messi set the La Liga and European records for most goals scored in a single season, while establishing himself as Barcelona's all-time top scorer in official competitions with 282 goals.
He again capped off the year by winning a fourth consecutive Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year award in 2012.
The following two seasons, Messi won the FIFA Ballon d'Or back-to-back for the second time in his career, becoming the first player to win five Ballons d'Or total.
An Argentine international, Messi is his country's all-time leading goalscorer. His style of play as a diminutive, left-footed dribbler drew comparisons with compatriot Diego Maradona, who declared the teenager his successor.
After making his senior debut in August 2005 and scoring twice on his sixth appearance that October, Messi became an entrenched member of the Argentina national team.
Due to his success at Barcelona and his influence on Argentina's style of play, Messi is sometimes considered the best player in the world and rated by some commentators, players, and media outlets as the greatest player of all time.
Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro GOIH ComM (Portuguese pronunciation: ['kɾiʃ'tjɐnu ʁuˈnaɫdu]; born 5 February 1985) is a Portuguese professional footballer who plays as a forward for the Spanish club Real Madrid and captains the Portugal national team.
Often considered the best player in the world and widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, Ronaldo has won five Ballons d'Or and four European Golden Shoes, both of which are records for a European player.
He has won 29 major trophies in his career, including seven league titles, five UEFA Champions Leagues, one UEFA European Championship, and one UEFA Nations League title.
Ronaldo holds the records for most goals (760) and assists (134) in Europe's top-five leagues, as well as for most goals (85) in the UEFA Champions League.
He is one of the few recorded players to have made over 1,000 professional appearances and has scored over 700 senior career goals for club and country.
An early adopter of social media within football, Ronaldo has a great global reach due to his large social media following; he was ranked the world's most famous athlete by ESPN in 2016, and Forbes magazine ranked him the world's second-highest-paid athlete in 2019.
Ronaldo was born in Santo António, a neighborhood of Funchal, Madeira, Portugal. He was named after Ronald Reagan, one of his father's favorite actors.
His mother, Maria Dolores dos Santos Aveiro, is a cook. His father, José Dinis Aveiro, died of an alcoholism-related liver condition at age 52 when Ronaldo was 20.
In 1997, aged 12, he started playing for amateur team Nacional and two years later he made his debut for Cruzeiro Esporte Clube (Brazil).
In 2003, he signed with Portuguese club Sporting CP and then-manager László Bölöni predicted he would be "the next big thing".
The following year, Ronaldo played in the final of the UEFA Cup against FC Porto, scoring two goals to help his team win 3–2. In August 2003, Ronaldo was purchased by English club Arsenal for £12 million (€15 million).
In his first season at Arsenal, Ronaldo was a regular starter and scored eight league goals in 30 appearances.
By age 18, he had received Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year nominations and at 19 became the youngest player ever to win the FA Cup. He moved from Sporting to Barcelona for €15 million in July 2009.
After joining Barcelona, Ronaldo helped the club win numerous trophies, including La Liga in his first year and the FIFA Club World Cup in 2009.
In 2010, he won Spain's La Liga Best Player Award and was part of Barcelona's historic sextuple-winning campaign.
Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior (Brazilian Portuguese: ['nejmaʁ dɐ ˈsiwvɐ sɐ̃tus ˈʒũjɔʁ]; born 5 February 1992), commonly known as Neymar Jr. or simply Neymar, is a Brazilian professional footballer who plays as a forward for French club Paris Saint-Germain and the Brazil national team. He is widely considered one of the best players in the world.
Neymar came into prominence at Santos, where he made his professional debut aged 18. He helped the club win two successive Campeonato Paulista championships, a Copa do Brasil, and the 2011 Copa Libertadores, which resulted in him being named South American Footballer of the Year for the first time.
Neymar was twice voted Brazilian Footballer of the Year, in 2011 and 2012. In March 2013, he moved to Barcelona for €57.1 million, making him one of the world's most expensive players at that time.
With Barcelona, he won another Champions League title and a La Liga title among other honors. His €222 million transfer from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain in August 2017 made him the world's most expensive player.
In Paris, he won several trophies, including two Ligue 1 titles and a Coupe de la Ligue. Neymar was named the UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in March 2016 and helped launch the Neymar Jr.'s Five football tournament in July 2014."
Karim Mostafa Benzema (born 19 December 1987) is a French professional footballer who plays as a striker for Spanish club Real Madrid and the France national team.
He has been described as an "immensely talented striker" who is "strong and powerful" and "a potent finisher inside the box".
Benzema was born in the city of Lyon and began his football career with the local club Olympique Lyonnais.
He scored on his professional debut in February 2007, turning in a match-winning performance against Auxerre.
In July 2009, Benzema joined the Spanish club Real Madrid for a fee of €35 million. He has won various domestic and European honors with the club, including three La Liga titles, two Copas del Rey, four UEFA Champions League titles, and four FIFA Club World Cup titles.
Benzema has represented France at the senior level since 2007. Prior to 2014, he had been capped 81 times at the youth level for his country across all age groups. Benzema scored 27 goals in 81 appearances for France between 2007 and 2015.
He represented the nation at two FIFA World Cups, as well as two UEFA European Championships. However, he has been left out of both of France's squads in 2016 and 2018.
Benzema was a member of the team that reached the final of Euro 2016, where they lost 1–0 to Portugal.
He has been banned from national selection since October 2015 over allegations of his involvement in blackmailing fellow international teammate Mathieu Valbuena."
So, who is the best football player in the world? According to some people, it’s Lionel Messi. But others think that Cristiano Ronaldo is better. Or Neymar Jr. Or even Karim Benzema.
The truth is, there are a lot of great players out there and it’s tough to say for sure who the best is. What we do know, however, is that they all have different strengths and weaknesses which is what makes watching football so interesting.